5 ON THE FLY: Five mini reviews all in one place.

Anna Atkinson – Sky Stacked Full (ft. David Occhipinti)

Anna Atkinson joins forces with guitarist David Occhipinti to create an album with a unique complexion. At its heart it is chamber music with definite strains of folk, but its avant touches of jazz and electronica really sets it apart from the crowd. For instance, “Snowshoe” could be typical folk ballad if not for the burbling/twinkling synth just below the melody, and the bouncy pop of songs like “Lovers” is made all the more intriguing by the incorporation of the atonal leanings of jazz compositions.

‘Sky Stacked Full’ is a carefully constructed work with a fine ear for detail. If all else fails Atkinson’s sweet and clear voice will entrance you regardless.

Prime cut: “Winter Wind”

Rhythm of Cruelty – New Ethos

Rhythm of Cruelty always did like to dabble in the experimental, but on ‘New Ethos’ they dive in the deep end head-first. Many of the tracks, such as “Intrusion”, are essentially sound sculptures, using found, field and recorded sounds. They are not completely avant-garde, having discernible melody and chord progressions as they meander through the halls of ambient/industrial post-punk electronica.

Like all great electronic musicians, RofC manage to eke human emotions out of the synthetic and metallic sounds of synth, such as the positive curiosity and mystery in “Fluid Motion” and the future shock and confusion in “Short Circuit”.

Prime Cut: “Absence of Light”

Dream Whip – Dream Whip

The songs on ‘Dream Whip’ are so drenched in doo-wop/surf reverb that the very air in front of your face becomes hazy and starts to shimmy. Many bands try to do that dreamy ‘60s girl band thing but few pull it off as masterfully as these four women from Calgary. Their punk backgrounds give the songs a rough and solid backbone, despite the sweetness on the surface. Furthermore, the odd warble in the voice adds some edge, such as on the otherwise gooey-soft “Hopeless Romantics”.

Prime Cut: “Hopeless Romantics”

iansucks – Don’t Give In To The Dark

‘Don’t Give In To The Dark Feelings’ could almost be a Mac DeMarco record, as it has the same melodic sense and slacker attitude. However, despite having a superficially light poppy sound there is an undercurrent of artsiness and innovation in the details. There is also a dark tone which comes from morose introspection. “Secret Tunnel 2”, for example, has a baroque pop tune sung in sweet harmony from the two lead singer (one male, one female). But strange noises and instrumental passages lurk beneath until a brief synth burst at the end gives their edginess a voice.

Prime Cut: “Person Box”

Deathstickss – DETHSTYX

Laura Klinduch and Matt Post turn the rock power duo scenario on its head. Sludge metal, art rock, grungy alt noise/pop get through into the mix. The pair are more often yelling at us than singing, further lending to the listener’s delighted confusion. The fuzzed-out guitars, garage-style drumming and the peculiar math/punk combo wins you over in the end.

Prime Cut: “Mountain Men”